In 1903 the ultimate motor cycle and seemingly the most reliable was the English made Quadrant. Below is a pictures of a 1903 model being held by Tom Silver. Mr Tom Silver used one in 1903 to set a new record for the 890 mile ride from John O'Groats to Lands End and then set off for a 6,000 mile around Africa .... ! All this in 1903.
In 1903 Tom Silver rode a bike like this or maybe exactly the same from Lands End to John O'Groats (890 miles) in just 64 hours and 29 minutes. This is an average of c14mph and if you assume that he must have stopped for a sleep etc then the bike must have been able to average 20mph+ when running. The roads at the time were dirt, almost no road signs existed and you had to buy petrol in small bottles in chemists or specialy order it. It must have been quite reliable to manage such a feat. All the more remarkable as a few days before he had ridden up from Lands End and almost reached John O'Groats but had crashed on the "boulder strewn roads" and injured himself and had to stop for a few days to recover.
It was an epic trip and the final words should be those of Mr Silver himself - "Finally, I reached Land's End at 4.29 on the afternoon of Saturday, June 20th, and very thankful I was to receive the assistance of Mr Urry, the official time-keeper, in effecting a dismount."
Just a few months after this ride Mr Tom Silver set off on an extraordinary adventure. He planned to ride his 1903 Quadrant 6,000 miles across Africa. A 6,000 mile off road ride across Africa now would be a serious undertaking on a modern machine, so clearly Mr Silver and his Quadrant were tough characters indeed to have managed it almost 110 years ago. The account of this epic trip has survived and is presented below over 10 pages. The pictures have sadly degraded, but the story is still very readible.
As the pictures in the above article are a little degraded I have been kindly lent an original copy and have scanned the original for better pictures, below.
The picture below shows a 1903 Quadrant in Midhurst, West Sussex in the summer of 1903.
The rider is either Harold Edward Pescod (age 21) or William Ernest Port (age 31).
My research revealed that the local area was thick with Quadrants at the time, so maybe a local dealer existed as they seem to be the main make in use 1903 to 1905 in the Midhurst region.
In the same period only one Triumph was registered and that down in Littlehampton. Seems that a Quadrant was definately the machine to have.
In 1903 the first motorised coast to coast crossing of the USA took place. A 1902 California motorcycle was used. The rider should be an American hero, but seems forgotten about. I have added a page about his 50 day epic adventure, see http://www.go-faster.com/GeorgeWyman.html
You can read my ramblings about my 1914 Triumph on my 1914 Triumph pages.